Vietnamese businesses should further sharpen their competitiveness to enhance their presence in France, the commercial counsellor at the Vietnamese Embassy in France Pham Xuan Yen said.

The French economy was expected to continue recovering this year, resulting in improvement in French spending. That would present an ideal opportunity for Vietnamese businesses to expand their operations, he said.

Two-way trade has increased significantly over the past two years, reaching 1.74 billion euros (2.37 billion USD) in 2009 and approximately 2 billion euros (2.73 billion USD) last year.

Of the total, Vietnamese exports accounted for 1.32 billion euros (1.8 billion USD), a 9 percent increase against 2009. Among export items recording the highest growth were seafood, footwear, textiles and garments and home appliances.

In terms of investment, France was one of the first foreign investors in Vietnam. Vinaspecia and Roussel Vietnam pharmaceutical joint ventures were established in 1970s.

Since Vietnam first opened its doors to foreign investors, more French businesses have come to Vietnam to seek investment opportunities.

As of last year, France ranked 15th among 92 countries and territories investing in Vietnam with over 300 projects worth a total of 2.94 billion USD. French businesses in Vietnam have thus far created 26,000 jobs for Vietnamese workers.

French businesses were interested in the Vietnamese investment environment, said French Trade Commission (UBIFRANCE) director for Vietnam Jean Louis Poli.

The director said he believed there would be fast growth in Franco-Vietnamese comprehensive co-operation as Vietnam was a rapidly-growing and attractive country.

It was a good time for French investors to expand their business and investment activities in the country, he noted.

President of the Financial Consultancy Co Jean Michel Caldagues outlined infrastructure development as one of the sectors that French businesses were highly interested in.

He spoke highly of the public-private partnership (PPP) model that was being promoted in Vietnam. Fostering infrastructure upgrade to cater for economic development was necessary in a country that experienced high growth like Vietnam.

While the Government capital was insufficient, he said, PPP development was one of the best ways to mobilise resources for development. France was one of the countries with a wealth of experience in PPP development and it was willing to share its experience in this field with Vietnam./.